Google will face a fight if it does as rumoured and re-enters the Chinese market with a bespoke, filtered search engine, Baidu's CEO has promised.
The ban on Google search in mainland China began in 2010, with all services - including Gmail and YouTube - being blocked in 2014, although the company maintains a presence there.
Baidu is China's dominant home-grown search engine, fulfilling many services that Western companies provide outside of the highly-censored country, including maps, image search a social network.
Robin Li, who leads the company, said on a private social media account this week, ‘Baidu will win again' if Google returns to the country. He added, ‘Chinese companies today have plenty of ability and confidence' to compete with Western firms.
According to Reuters, Li was reacting to a People's Daily article that said that Google was welcome back to China as long as it complied with local laws. The article has since been removed from People's Daily's social media accounts.
Google's plans to launch a censorship-friendly search engine, first revealed by The Intercept, have been criticised for being counter to free speech. The tool will apparently remove certin websites from the first page of results, with a disclaimer. It will also stop people from searching for banned phrases, such as - we assume - ‘Chinese Communist Party corruption', so that no results will be shown.
Baidu's smack-talk comes at a time when US-China ties are fraught with tension. Sales of some Chinese hardware have been banned in the country, following warnings from the intelligence community, while US companies are keen to maintain their presence: last year Apple removed hundreds of apps from its Chinese store to appease censors.
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